Sun, September 24, 2017 | 17:34
Posted : 2017-09-11 16:54
Updated : 2017-09-12 10:14

LKP leader's 'nuclear drive' draws concerns

Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hong Joon-pyo speaks during a party meeting, Monday, to discuss a signature collection drive in support of the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. / Yonhap

By Choi Ha-young

Liberty Korea Party (LKP) Chairman Hong Joon-pyo is stepping up his push for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, while rejecting proposals for discussions on security concerns resulting from North Korea.

Hong vowed Monday to launch a petition in support of the redeployment, saying he can draw support from at least 10 million people.

"The redeployment of U.S. nuclear weapons is the only way left for South Korea to face North Korea's nuclear hostage-taking," Hong said on Facebook. "Please join this campaign for the survival of the next generation."

The largest conservative party plans to collect signatures via the internet and street campaigns. Hong plans to send a group of LKP lawmakers to the U.S., China and Japan to rev up support for the redeployment.

President Moon Jae-in has offered dialogue with the leaders of political parties to discuss the worsening security situation following North Korea's sixth nuclear test. All parties except for the LKP accepted the proposal.

"It has become extremely clear that diplomacy or dialogue are not solutions. That means the only path we can take is through operating tactical nuclear weapons," Hong said in an interview with The Washington Post last week.

In addition, LKP lawmaker Won Yoo-chul said he will deliver a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump to urge the redeployment. "According to a recent opinion poll, 60 percent of respondents backed the tactical nuclear weapons or nuclear armament," Rep. Won said in a press release, Sunday.

"The redeployment is a minimum measure to deter North Korea's heightening threats. By dismissing security anxiety here, the redeployment is likely to strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance," he added.

As of Monday, over 30 LKP lawmakers signed the letter. Rep. Won will deliver the letter this week.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) slammed the LKP's moves, Monday.

"The LKP's move to isolate the presidential office and seek direct contacts with the U.S. politicians is as worrisome as North Korea's nuclear development," Rep. Song Young-gil, head of the Northern Economic Cooperation Committee, said in a radio interview.

"The conservative party has lashed out at President Moon for being alienated from international talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Recently, the LKP is making the situation worse," Song said, adding South Korea does not need U.S. tactical nuclear weapons.

Experts echoed this point.

"The LKP's moves look insane," said Kim Dong-yup, professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University.

"The U.S. is already providing a nuclear deterrence to South Korea through nuclear-powered submarines, Aegis combat system and B-1B Lancer strategic bombers."

Cha Du-hyeogn of the Asan Institute of Policy Studies also pointed out that the existence of tactical weapons doesn't ensure higher deterrence, unlike the LKP's argument. "It may relieve South Koreans psychologically, but tactical weapons in the peninsula don't necessarily reduce the time for retaliation, compared to the ones based in the U.S. territory," Cha said.

"Rather than urgently sending letter to the U.S., Seoul should come up with a strategy on when and how to redeploy the weapons and whether to deploy it permanently or temporarily."

홍준표 "핵무장 꼭 필요…핵보유 가능"

'전술핵 재배치로 핵질서 재편…1천만 서명운동·외교 전개'

자유한국당 홍준표 대표는 11일 '내 나라와 국민을 지키기 위해 핵무장이 꼭 필요하다'고 말했다.

홍 대표는 이날 국회에서 열린 최고위원회의에서 '(우리는) 북한과 비교도 안 되게 짧은 시간 내에 핵 보유를 할 수 있다'며 이같이 말했다.

홍 대표는 '한반도에 전술핵 재배치가 되면 세계 핵 질서가 재편된다. 특히 불량국가인 북한이 핵 보유를 한 마당에 앞으로 한국, 일본, 대만의 핵 도미노 사태도 올 수가 있다'며 '그래서 전술핵재배치는 한반도 문제뿐 아니라 세계 핵질서의 재편을 가져오는 엄청난 화두로 등장했다'고 강조했다.

이어 '다행스럽게 대한민국에는 핵을 만들 수 있는 플루토늄이 원전(가동) 30년의 결과로 북한과는 비교할 수 없게 많다'며 '우리는 북한과 다르게 IT·컴퓨터 기술이 발달했기 때문에 굳이 핵실험을 하지 않더라도 컴퓨터 시뮬레이션으로 고폭 실험을 할 수 있다'고 설명했다.

그는 '전문가 의견에 따르면 우리는 1년만 하면 충분히 핵 보유를 할 수 있는 기술과 능력을 갖추고 있다'며 '내 나라 내 국민을 지킨다는 각오로 앞으로 전술핵 재배치 1천만 서명운동과 전술핵 재배치 외교에 나설 것을 천명한다'고 말했다.

'전술핵 재배치를 대선공약으로 제기했을 때 심지어 당내에서도 엉뚱한 얘기라고 했다'며 '그런데 (북한의) 6차 핵실험 후에 이 정부와 가장 코드가 맞는 여론조사기관에서도 전술핵 재배치 요구가 68%라고 발표했다'고 덧붙였다.(연합)